Saturday, October 11, 2008

More penguins return home to Argentina

Penguins all at sea, opt for luxury trip home

Staff writer

October 10, 2008 12:00am

THIRTY-one penguins stranded on the balmy Brazilian coast have begun a journey to return them south to their natural habitat in Patagonia.

A ship will take three days to transport the group of magellanic penguins to Brazil's southern border with Argentina, where the birds will rest for a week to gather strength to complete the voyage.

Once ready, biologists plan to release them to the ocean in the hope they will ride ocean currents the rest of the way to Patagonia.

On Saturday 399 penguins that were washed up, exhausted, on the beaches of Brazil's Salvador de Bahia in July were flown 3219km south by a Brazilian Air Force jet.

Yesterday's cruise treatment for the 31 penguins takes longer, "but should allow them to better adapt to their return to nature", according to Gisela Candiotto, director of Niteroi Zoo, where the birds have been resting.

By ship they would be able to smell the salt water.

The magellanic penguin, the biggest warm-weather penguin, breeds mostly in Patagonia, the southernmost reach of South America.

They normally migrate north between March and September, following fish that travel north with the warm water.

This year the intrepid penguins went much farther north than usual because of warmer-than-normal ocean currents.

From the @,21985,24472777-5012753,00.html

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